Relief for Krishna Babu, Dwaraka Tirumala Rao in contempt case; AP HC stays conviction

In a major reprieve to M T Krishna Babu and Ch Dwaraka Tirumala Rao, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday granted a stay on their recent conviction in a contempt case

Andhra Pradesh High Court

AMARAVATI: In a major reprieve to senior government officials M T Krishna Babu (IAS) and Ch Dwaraka Tirumala Rao (IPS), the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday granted a stay on their recent conviction by a high court single judge in a contempt case. A division bench of the High Court passed an interim order to this effect, thus staying the punishment imposed on five officials including the two senior government functionaries.

The interim ruling came on an appeal petition filed by Krishna Babu and Dwaraka Tirumala Rao. Recently, a single judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court sentenced the five officials to one-month imprisonment besides imposing a fine of Rs 10,000 each, in a contempt petition filed against them. The contempt petition charged the state government officials with wilful disobedience in implementing the court’s earlier directions with regard to the regularisation of the services of a few APSRTC employees. While convicting them for contempt, the High Court single judge had also directed them to surrender before the judicial registrar by May 16.

Dwaraka Tirumala Rao, APSRTC Vice-Chairman, and M T Krishna Babu, who was then the principal secretary of transport department and now elevated to the rank of special chief secretary, were among the five officials who were at the receiving end of the High Court’s punishment on the contempt petitions filed by one B Surendra and three others, all employees of the corporation.

The petitioners, who were fieldmen in APSRTC and hail from Chittoor district, first approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2020 for directions to regularise their services. They claimed that they were ignored even when the services of their juniors were regularised by the corporation. Concurring with their contention, a single judge of the High Court in 2022 issued directions to the APSRTC to regularise the services of the petitioners on par with their juniors besides paying all other benefits with seven percent interest.

As the issue was hanging fire at the corporation’s side, the petitioners knocked at the door of the High Court again with a contempt petition, accusing the APSRTC of wilful disobedience in complying with the court’s order. The High Court refused to entertain the plea of the respondents that they had filed an appeal petition and that the contempt petitions should not be taken cognisance of.

Citing that no stay had been granted by the division bench, the single judge felt that the respondents did not make any efforts to implement the earlier High Court directions on the regularisation of the petitioners’ services. Finding them guilty of contempt of court and making them liable for punishment, the single judge has recently convicted Tirumala Rao, Krishna Babu, T Chengal Reddy (APSRTC regional manager), US Srinivas, Chief Engineer and K Koteswara Rao (Executive Engineer, APSRTC) and sentenced them to one-month imprisonment. They were also directed to surrender before the judicial registrar before May 16.

With the division bench of the high court granting the interim relief by staying their conviction, the officials can breathe easy, at least until the final disposal of their appeal petition.

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